CHANDLER, Ariz. – Northern Arizona opened up a seven-stroke lead over Portland State after the front nine and fended off a late charge by the Vikings to claim the 2013 Big Sky Champion by four strokes with a three-day total of 882. The Lumberjacks will represent the conference in the NCAA Regionals and in all likelihood will be at the West Regional hosted by Stanford University May 9-11.
“It’s an unbelievable and amazing feeling,” NAU head coach Brad Bedortha said. “Starting the day out I was just completely comfortable and calm and confident with my players; it was just easy going right from the get-go and I had a good feeling. They played great all day from top to bottom. They’ve done a great job all season and I’m just really happy for everybody.”
The Lumberjacks trailed Portland State by nine strokes after the first day of the tournament and were tied with the Vikings after the second round before pulling away Tuesday to win a seventh Big Sky titile.
Junior Kaitlen Parsons was named to the all-tournament team after tying for 2nd place with a three-day total of one-under-par 215, tying former Lumberjack Bethany Leclair for the best three-round score in program history.
Parsons was the team’s top-scorer in all three rounds of the tournament with scores of 73-71-71. She opened her final round with birdies on one and two and added two more birdies on the back nine. She narrowly missed an eagle putt on her final hole to finish in a tie with Portland State’s Britany Yada for second place overall. Montana State’s Paige Crawford was the individual champion with a Big Sky-record eight-under-par tournament total of 208.
Stephanie Kim, NAU’s lone senior, also opened with a birdie and remained at one-under-par through the 14th hole before ending with a 74.
“It feels pretty amazing; I’ve waited four years for this,” said Kim. “We’ve worked so hard this year and I don’t know how to explain how proud I am of my team. I’ve waited four years to play in the NCAA Regionals and to finally do that this year is amazing.”
Sophomore Darian Spivey, who equaled Parsons’ team-best round on Sunday, matched that score with a 73 on Tuesday for a superb 73-74-73 line and a career-best 220 total to tie for ninth place overall. Freshman Savana Bezdicek had another outstanding round, making par on 16 of 18 holes and finishing with an even-par 72, while sophomore Susana Mejia closed out a strong Big Sky showing with a 79.
It was NAU’s first Big Sky title since 2009. The team will play in the NCAA Regional Championship for the fifth time in program history.
“I don’t think that’s even hit yet,” said Bedortha regarding the NCAA Regionals. “That’s finals week so there’s going to be some shuffling and planning, but we won that honor and get that privilege so it will be a pleasure to go.”